Public Way Use

If your business has a sign, canopy, awning, bench, or anything that extends over, under or is on the public way, it requires a Public Way Use Permit (Grants of Privilege) issued by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) - Public Way Use (PWU) Unit. The process to obtain the permit requires City Council approval.  There are many different types of public way uses including Sidewalk Cafés.

In addition to a public way use permit, all business identifiers such as signs, awnings, canopies and banners are required to have a Department of Buildings sign construction permit. Only a licensed sign contractor may apply to obtain a sign construction permit. Please see the list of approved contractors.

You may apply for both permits at the same time at BACP.

You can apply in person at the BACP Small Business Center (SBC) located in City Hall,  121 North LaSalle Street, Room 800.  Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  You can request an appointment with an SBC Business Consultant here.   Application forms are available and listed under the "Public Way Use Applications / Documents" section below.  

For temporary use of the public way due to construction, applicants must obtain a Construction Canopy Permit from the Chicago Department of Transportation. Information about this permitting process is available here.


 Additional Information

BACP Quick Links

Apply for a Business License Online

Renew a Business License Online

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License / Zoning Reference Guide

Chicago Municipal Code

BACP Office Location

Freedom of Information Request

File a Complaint

 Department Main Office

Business Affairs and Consumer Protection

  • Phone: 312.744.6060
    Toll Free:
    TTY: 312.744.1944
    Fax: 312.744.0246
  • 121 N. LaSalle Street
    8th Floor
    Chicago, IL 60602   
    Get Directions

 Additional Information

Report a Sidewalk Cafe Violation